Thursday, 31 December 2009

Tuesday, 29 December 2009


Don't you just love provincial news headlines? This was today's Eastern Daily Press ...

I think it was mine ... I sneezed hard yesterday ....

Saturday, 26 December 2009

I have acquired some nice Christmas loot.

(Title borrowed from Noel Coward's diaries)

In fact, I've been very lucky and people have been very generous. Numerous bottles, books, vouchers, and some delightfully naff Christian "tat" such as a CD clock with an image of a Bethlehem shepherd on it, a candle with a transfer of Jesus, a pair of Holy socks with Jonah and the Whale on them, and a small elastic bracelet with numerous pictures of saints and angels stuck on each wooden bead. Cheese and chocolates, a "Nuns having fun" calendar, some old Brighton postcards, and some CD's. Too much!

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas 2009

Midnight service at Ilketshall St John was fairly well attended with 27 people, but this morning's BCP Holy Communion eclipsed that with 40+ people coming into Flixton. Not a bad turn-out in total.

Christmas day spent by myself, relaxing in the warmth as the wind rises outside on a grey day. But being alone is no reason to forego the traditions, and so I cooked a full lunch; turkey, small sausages, bacon rolls, brussel sprouts, carrots, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, stuffing, bread sauce, along with a delicious gravy, home-made cranberry sauce, and good old English mustard. Washed down with a glass (or two) of Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon.

All followed by Christmas pudding and Golden Foam sauce, accompanied by a small glass of port.

Having listend to the Queen's speech, it's now a cup of fresh coffee and a sit-down in front of the fire, and maybe opening a package or two ....

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

All Saints South Elmham

Tonight's Carol service was in the one church in this Benefice that has been declared redundant and is therefore under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. Not since it was closed in the early 1970's have Christmas carols been sung there, and without any light or heat it was all done this evening by candlelight. Thankfully it wasn't so bitterly cold as it has been, and in fact it started to rain and thaw whilst the congregation of 21 were afterwards warming ourselves with some mulled wine in the farm next door. We also got through the service with no conflagration of persons, hymn sheets or furniture! And it all looked rather special.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

... and a time for speaking out

From a brilliant article in The Guardian, which really asks important questions over our priorities and the utterances, or lack of them, from Lambeth Palace.

The Church's continuing wrangling over the issue of gay people makes some despair. One senior London cleric, himself in a gay partnership, says: "We are asked to make sacrifices of relationships, of part of our lives, that are unimaginable to our heterosexual colleagues, which they would never be asked to make. There is a failure to stand up for honesty, against prejudice, that is quite horrible. I stay because I love God and love the church, but it is like being in an abusive relationship."

Last Tuesday, bishops in the House of Lords were still fighting for the church's right to discriminate in employment, not just among the clergy (there is already exemption for them), but its other employees too. They were opposing the government's equality bill and, since it is unlikely that they want to discriminate against black or disabled folk, one must presume it is sexual orientation that is at issue. Dr Peter Forster, bishop of Chester, argued that the proposed legislation "concentrates too ... excessively on the rights of the individual, essential as these are".

More culpable than this little reported rearguard action has been the Church of England's response to two events on opposite sides of the world: the election, in Los Angeles, of a suffragan bishop, Mary Glasspool, who is openly gay and has lived with her partner Becki Sander for the last 21 years.

This temerity on the part of Californian Episcopalians in choosing the bishop they wanted produced a shocked reaction within hours from Dr Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, a man once thought sympathetic to the vocation of gay people. Glasspool's selection, he warned, posed very serious questions for the church. He took comfort in the possibility that her election might not be confirmed by the US house of bishops, even though no bishop has been rejected there since the 1870s.

What made his intervention worse was that at the same time he was maintaining an embarrassed silence about proposed legislation in the Ugandan parliament that would mandate the death penalty for some homosexuals, life imprisonment for others and prison sentences for friends and relatives who failed to inform the authorities of their existence.

Some Ugandan Anglicans have gleefully supported the plans: one, the Rev Michael Esakan Okwi, recently described gays as cockroaches and Bishop Joseph Abura warned against the wicked west "exporting" homosexuality to the developing world: "They want it to become a virtue ... Ugandan parliament, watchdog of our laws, please go ahead and put the anti-gay laws in place."

Through all this, there has been the muffled sound of gritted teeth from Lambeth Palace, all the more remarkable because the Church of England has long opposed capital punishment. A previous archbishop, Michael Ramsey, spoke against hanging and anti-homosexual legislation in Britain in the 1960s, and the Anglican communion calls on its clergy to minister sensitively to gay people, which would breach the Ugandan law. And yet Williams and John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, who is Ugandan and was once a judge there, kept quiet.

It was only last weekend, after even US conservative evangelical pastor Rick Warren had vigorously condemned the Ugandan proposals, that Williams, finally, sotto voce in an interview in the Daily Telegraph, murmured about the proposed law's "shocking severity".

It seems the death clause may have been withdrawn, but the threat of imprisonment remains and now neighbouring Rwanda is reportedly considering similar legislation. Meanwhile, the possibility of being expelled from the Anglican communion, or downgraded within its counsels, hangs over the US Episcopal church.

It comes to this, wrote the Guardian's commentator Andrew Brown: "Under Williams, the church that marries two women who love each other is to be thrown out of the Anglican communion. The church that would jail them both for life and revile and persecute their defenders stays snugly in its bosom. Not even the archbishop's gift for obfuscation can conceal these facts forever."

Tom Butler, the bishop of Southwark, who retires in March, said: "Rowan is an enigma. I don't think he is a pushover. He is patient and stubborn and he frequently says with God the impossible is always possible. The Ugandan situation is extremely sensitive. Archbishop Sentamu's advice is taken extremely seriously."

Ask him whether he condemns the legislation and he spars uncomfortably before finally admitting: "It's obviously a wicked law, which I could not possibly support, but whether I would help the situation by denouncing it publicly, I don't know."

Well, I think it might ...

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Silver bells ...

Another bright morning after more overnight snow. It was -6c last night as I drove out to a Carol service. This photo was taken at Rumburgh as I got there for the 9.45 a.m. Eucharist, with the bells ringing out.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Sunshine after/before the storm?

More overnight snow. Despite the fact there are Carol services tonight to get to, it does look pretty.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Oh Christmas now is drawing near at hand ....

... and so today the decorations began. This year, instead of the tree going in the hall I've put it in front of the new doors. Now for the first time in this house it can be seen from the outside so that others can enjoy.

The sitting room has also had its lights put up.

Friday, 4 December 2009

I'm sometimes ashamed to be known as a Christian when there are ones like this

From Boulder Weekly

Tuesday, December 1,2009

D.C. Council votes to legalize same-sex marriage
By McClatchy-Tribune News Service

WASHINGTON — The District of Columbia Council took a major step toward joining New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Massachusetts in legalizing same-sex marriage Tuesday, approving the change by a vote of 11 to 2.

Although the outcome was expected from the heavily Democratic city, the move remains controversial because of opposition from socially conservative churches.

"Today's vote is an important victory not only for the gay and lesbian community but for everyone who supports equal rights," said openly gay Council member David Catania, in a statement. "Gays and lesbians bear every burden of citizenship and are entitled to every benefit and protection that the law allows."

The most vocal opposition came from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. Archbishop Donald Wuerl warned that legalizing same-sex marriage will force the church's social services arm to scale back its efforts in the city.

The law, as passed on Tuesday, would not make churches perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, but it would require employers doing business with the city, including churches, to provide health benefits for married same-sex couples.

Providing those benefits would violate their religious beliefs, say church officials. Refusing to provide them, however, would make them ineligible to have social-services contracts and partnerships with the city.

"We really don't want to be in a position where we're being asked to abandon one part of our faith to be able to live out the other part," said Susan Gibbs, an archdiocese spokeswoman. "Our goal is to be able to provide the same level of services, but we have to be true to our faith."

My comment:

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

All will be revealed

After 7 years of prevaricating I have finally put my money where my mouth is (since the Diocese won't cough up) and had patio doors installed in the kitchen in place of the badly-fitted windows. This will mean that for my monthly Coffee Mornings in the warmer weather the doors can be opened and people can move out onto the patio area instead of being cramped together in the kitchen.

This house now has 5 external doors, plus the garage, which is a bit excessive, but I wanted these put in so that I can use that outside area with much greater ease. It also means that if I host a summer Garden event, then teas can be easily served without tramping through the main hall or up my back passage!

The kitchen had to be cleared before the work began as there was going to be a lot of dust created when the brickwork was removed. All is now cleaned and put back.